Thursday, March 17, 2011

Al explains the term “drongo”

A week or two ago I popped by Christine’s Blog "What I See When I Walk Out"

I responded to a post in which she had said she had been embarrassed by agreeing and I then went on to say “You feel like such a drongo when…”

Without thinking I inserted a word that might not mean anything to people outside Oz. Christine commented back “great word, drongo. Never heard it before - is it an Oz word, I wonder?”

Now to be strictly above board I do not use a huge amount of Aussie idiom in my daily language. But sometimes words that are very common place here will catch someone from overseas as odd or simply unintelligible.

So what is a “drongo”? A bird watcher might tell you a drongo is any of a particular family of birds.

But an Aussie will tell you “Drongo” means a "silly person", "a dope" or an "an idiot".
By the way a “Galah” is not only a common Aussie parrot but also means the same thing as “Drongo”.

Aussie language is quite colourful with a lot of slang that is fairly unique. One thing that is worth noting is that sometimes words have a very different meaning in Oz to elsewhere.

Perhaps the best example is “bastard”. In most of the world bastard is an extremely derogatory term.
In Oz bastard is usually a term of endearment. I might for example (in fact I have) greet a friend by saying “it’s good to see you, you old bastard.”
Or you might say of a mutual acquaintance “he’s an old bastard” meaning “I like him.”
Non-natives beware! A lot depends on the tone of delivery, bastard can also have exactly the same meaning as overseas. I might also say of someone “he’s an old bastard” meaning I hated someone.

The difference? My intonation nothing else.

A last word about bastards, calling someone “a bit of a bastard” is always an insult.

Other words can have also very different meanings. “Root” is not only part of a tree in Oz, it also means “sexual intercourse” (basically “fuck”).

So when an American says “I’m rooting for you” I try not to chuckle. I understand what is meant but it still sounds odd to an Aussie ear. An Aussie would say “I’m barracking for…” meaning offering support for a team in the same way an American would “Root.”

Another example is “bloody” usually bloody in Oz simply means “very”. So “she was bloody sick” would literally translate as “she was very ill.” While “bloody hard” is “very difficult” and "bloody oath' means "very true".

So there you go, a bloody brief lesson in fair dinkum Strine!

Does anyone want to guess what might be meant by “Flat out like a lizard drinking”?
A clue: it isn’t rude

Aussies please don’t spoil the game.
Don’t be shonky by looking it up on the internet!

To get you in the mood a piccie from last weekend.
Port Welshpool


Old Kitty said...

Somoeone who is very very tired and thirsty and has skin like a lizard with a long tongue?

Take care

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

i'm going to start using Drongo.
Also, i think my family tends to use bastard closer to the way you do, which is more frivolous, with the occasional harsher intent

Misha said...

I always find slang interesting. But mostly because I can never figure out what is being said...

So I'm not going to hazard a guess on your question.


Rachel said...

I'm not Australian, but my Dad is ... so I know the answer to your Q, but I won't spoil it for others ;)

Al said...

Hi Jennifer,
No it isn’t quite that literal.

Hi Sarah,
Drongo is a great word, have fun with it!
So you would be “silly old bastards then” ;-) (light friendly tone used of course!)

HI Misha,
Slang can be fun can’t it.

Hi Rachel,
Half an Aussie?
Thanks for letting it run

Lynda R Young said...

lol, drongo...I haven't heard that in AGES! Thanks for the smile :)

Angela Felsted said...

That's very interesting. I had no idea the "R" word was a cuss word in Australia.

Niki said...

lol I cringe when people use the word 'root'. And in America 'fanny' is a different part of the body to us as well.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Al .. always interesting to see word meaning changes between countries .. dringo .. I guessed - but am always glad to get an overview of others ..

on the other hand the lazy lizard I have no idea .. so I'll wait til you tell me .. cheers Hilary

Christine said...

I'm late popping in to this post, Al. Returning to work is exciting, but a struggle for this old girl and blogging has had to take a back seat.

Thanks for the mention. I loved this walk through the slang! When are you going to tell us the meaning of 'flat out like a lizard drinking'. Of course I'm not going to be shonky (what?)and look it up on the internet!